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Rehabilitation of a Marathon Runner with Guillain-Barré Syndrome

Fisher, Tara Beth DPT, CSCS; Stevens, Jennifer E. MPT, PhD

Journal of Neurologic Physical Therapy: December 2008 - Volume 32 - Issue 4 - pp 203-209
doi: 10.1097/NPT.0b013e31818e0882
Case Report

Background and Purpose: Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is an acute inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy that affects nerve roots and peripheral nerves leading to motor neuropathy and flaccid paralysis. This case report describes the physical therapy examination, intervention, and outcomes for a marathon runner with GBS.

Case Description: The patient was a 30-year-old male marathon runner who presented with acutely evolving motor and sensory deficits that initially stabilized and then worsened. Both GBS and chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy were considered as diagnoses, and medical treatment included a combination of intravenous administration of immunoglobulins, plasmapheresis, and corticosteroids. During his stay in an acute inpatient rehabilitation facility, the intervention was focused on regaining functional independence and strength with care not to induce fatigue or relapse.

Outcomes: After three weeks in an acute inpatient rehabilitation facility, the patient showed marked gains in Functional Independence Measure scores and muscle performance as measured by manual muscle testing.

Physical Therapy Program, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Colorado, Denver.

Address correspondence to: Jennifer E. Stevens, E-mail:

© 2008 Neurology Section, APTA